Whenever my wife and I travel interstate we look for national parks and botanic gardens to visit. Both afford excellent opportunities for us to pursue our interests. My wife is interested in Australian native plants and flowers – she has a small nursery – and I am interested in the birds that frequent such places.
On our trip through the eastern states last Christmas and New Year we visited Canberra for a short while. Our main objective was to visit the National Gallery to see the special Degas art exhibition. As important was a brief visit to the Australian National Botanic Gardens. These gardens are possibly our favourite in all that we have visited so far.
We were able to spend about three hours wandering the gardens on this occasion, not nearly enough time, granted, but we were on a tight schedule. During our stay we were entertained by a jazz group playing a variety of pieces. This, we found out, was a part of their Summer Series of concerts on Sunday evenings. Daylight Saving is ideal for such events and it proved to be very popular with many hundreds of people coming in toÂ the gardens. Fortunately the music did not deter the birds, and I was able to compile a nice list and get some interesting photos.
With so many plants in the gardens, and many of them flowering, it is not surprising to find many honeyeaters present and active. The Red Wattlebird shown in the photo above was quite unafraid of me only a few metres away; they are obviously used to people.
After our visit to Katoomba we drove on to the small town of Blackheath. We stopped there at a local bakery to buy something delicious to have for afternoon tea. We then drove a few kilometres to a picnic area and lookout known as Govett’s Leap. The most interesting feature of the lookout is the wispy waterfall shown in the photo above. The scene from the lookout is quite spectacular.
During our picnic I kept a lookout for birds of this area. This was our first visit but our son had been here before. I heard several treecreepers, probably White-throated Treecreepers, calling in the tall forest trees surrounding us. Like most of the treecreepers, I find that they are more often heard than seen.
I saw a beautiful pair of Australian King Parrots flying through the picnic area. Later additions to my bird list for the visit includedÂ several Australian Magpies and Pied Currawongs.
A small family of Australian Ravens decided to try their luck. they came very close to our picnic table looking for some tasty morsel from our afternoon tea. We didn’t oblige. Two of the birds were young ones if their begging calls were anything to go on.
It is a delightful spot and well worth visiting again. Next time I think it would be worth going on one of the walking trails branching out from the picnic grounds. This would give one a better chance of seeing far more birds.
We are in the midst of a heatwave this week. On Monday it reached 40C (104F), yesterday 45C (113F) and it looks like another 40+ day today.
Our poor garden birds – along with birds everywhere, suffer greatly during such extreme temperatures. I try to keep the supply of water in the bird baths up during these times, something they much appreciate if the constant stream of birds is anything to go by.
During the worst of the heat yesterday I was working in my office. I was being kept cool by the gentle flow of cool air from our evaporative air conditioner. This type of cooler needs an open window to create a flow of cool air into a room. The window alongside of me was ajar a few centimetres.
I was suddenly aware of a Yellow-rumped Thornbill cooling itself in the flow of air escaping from my office. He twittered in appreciation for about five minutes, wings held out to catch the refreshing air, before flying off to catch afternoon tea.
It was a lovely interruption to my afternoon of writing.
On one of the days we spent in Sydney this last Christmas – New Year holidays we went as a family up into the Blue Mountains. We stopped for lunch at the village of Leura before going on a few miles to Katoomba. It is almost obligatory when passing through this area to visit Echo Point and have a look at the mountain scenery, and the Three Sisters in particular as shown in the photo above.
For those not familiar with this rocky outcrop, click on the image to enlarge it. The people half way down on the extreme left of the photo will give you an appreciation of the scale of this much photographed natural feature. As we left my son and I had a debate. What is the most photographed natural feature in Australia? For sheer numbers this lookout would have to be in the top five or ten I contended. Right up there with Uluru and Sydney Harbour.
While we were there I saw or heard very few birds. With the huge numbers of tourists present I’m not surprised. I did see several Sulphur-crested Cockatoos in the valley below, a few Welcome Swallows swooping around nearby and a solitary Crested Pigeon on the lawn near the tourist centre. Near the pigeon I saw a Pied Currawong eating an apple abandoned by a tourist. This area has a very rich range of bird life; they just have the sense to keep away from the busy tourist spots.
Happy Australia Day to all of my readers.
I’ve included a photo today of that iconic Australian bird, the Laughing Kookaburra. It is one of our most recognisable and well loved birds, and its distinctive laughing call is familiar to almost everyone in this country as well as many people who have never been to Australia.
Even though it was a public holiday I didn’t go out birding. It was too hot, reaching 40C (104F) under our veranda this afternoon. Instead I spent some of the morning working on a project on the back veranda until the heat chased me inside to air conditioned comfort. I spent some of the day in front of the television watching South Africa beat Australia in the cricket game here in Adelaide.
The birding all day was rather slow in our garden. The heat does that to the bird life. I’d forgotten to fill the bird bath this morning and so there was little action there. A few Galahs flew over during the cooler part of the evening. Several Little Ravens were calling loudly nearby. The Australian Magpies seemed to be keeping a low profile today – we didn’t even see them. The regular patrol undertaken every day by our local White-winged Choughs never happened, and even the bossy New Holland Honeyeaters seemed subdued. At one stage a small group of Mallee Ringneck parrots flew past noisily, but they didn’t hang around for long.
It does not bode well for the birding over the next week. The forecast is for a heatwave – that is, temperatures over 35CÂ (95F) – for at least the next 5 days and perhaps even a week.
Time to attend to some indoor projects, methinks.